Desmond Richardson: Dares to Do It All, from Concert Dance and Ballet to Film and Broadway

By Gladstone, Valerie | Dance Magazine, February 2003 | Go to article overview

Desmond Richardson: Dares to Do It All, from Concert Dance and Ballet to Film and Broadway


Gladstone, Valerie, Dance Magazine


On a bright September afternoon in 2002, Desmond Richardson paused momentarily before executing an exquisite triple pirouette, his sleek, muscled body glistening in the light flooding the New 42nd Street Studios in Manhattan. Leaving onlookers awestruck, he took off in a series of blazing leaps across the room, bringing the sequence to a rousing close with rapid-fire bourrees and a big, radiant smile. Such a daunting technical challenge was not new to the 34-year-old dancer, who was rehearsing with the modern dance company Complexions, which he co-founded with his partner Dwight Rhoden in 1994.

Alternating between ballet, modern dance, Broadway, television, and film, Richardson, whose chiseled good looks are framed by short dreadlocks, wins kudos wherever his interests lead him. Nothing attests to his versatility like his resume. He started his career with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1987, shifted to Ballett Frankfurt in 1994, and in 1997 became American Ballet Theatre's first black principal dancer. He left to star in the hit show Fosse on Broadway, for which he won a Tony Award nomination in 1999 for Best Featured Actor in a Musical.

As if all this were not enough, he can be seen in the new film Chicago, which co-stars actors Richard Gere and Catherine Zeta-Jones, and on Broadway in the musical The Look of Love, choreographed by Ann Reinking (tentatively slated for spring 2003). He also appears in the Patrick Swayze film Without a Word, which is due out later in 2003. Like his idol Nureyev, Richardson thrives on mastering new styles and has a mesmerizing theatrical presence.

Richardson doesn't take advantage of being a star. Along with every other dancer at that September rehearsal, he was concentrating on getting the dance's phrasing and tone right. Because he is so familiar with Rhoden's style--a combination of ballet, modern, and jazz dance--he occasionally coaches his Complexions colleagues, enjoying the chance to give artistic advice. The company was preparing for a performance in Los Angeles and a tour of the United States. Richardson toured with Complexions until early December; rehearsals for The Look of Love started later in the month.

Since Richardson has taken voice lessons for six years, he was elated about finally making his Broadway singing debut in the musical named for the well-known Burt Bacharach song. Still, when he got to the audition, he felt frightened. "I began to tense up," he confessed, "and worry about whether I would do it right. But I talked myself into relaxing, because I do love to sing." In fact, he sang his audition numbers well enough to be hired on the spot.

"Desmond is such an incredible talent," said Reinking, who oversaw the audition, "that I couldn't imagine the show without him." He also sings in the film Chicago.

Richardson's courage, energy, and daring have won him an honored place in the dance world. In the last few years, many superb male dancers have come to the fore, but Richardson's technique and expressiveness stand out--enough for even his colleagues to envy him.

"When we danced together in Nacho Duato's Remanso at ABT," Vladimir Malakhov said, "Desmond made everything look so easy. I wished I could be like him."

Richardson's wide-ranging talents have attracted choreographers as diverse as George Faison, Ulysses Dove, Garth Fagan, John Butler, William Forsythe, and Lar Lubovitch. When Richardson was a principal dancer with ABT, Lubovitch choreographed the role of Othello for him.

"Instinctively, Desmond conveys poetry in movement," Lubovitch said. "Then there's his superb technique. As a dance linguist, he speaks eloquently in all styles. Nothing he performs is flat or uninflected." The PBS film of Richardson dancing in the San Francisco Ballet's production of Lubovitch's Othello is scheduled to air in June on public television stations nationwide as part of the Great Performances anniversary celebration. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Desmond Richardson: Dares to Do It All, from Concert Dance and Ballet to Film and Broadway
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.